Interventions, Volume 03, Issue 01: Mediascapes and Connectivity

From photography and film to digital video and social networking services, innovations in media have influenced the ways in which we experience, document, remember, and share our lives. Due to the wide dissemination of portable cameras and the Internet as well as the growing application of advanced technologies in institutions, the very presence of instant recording and distribution apparatuses have become an integral part of our lives. The heightened connectivity and instantaneity have shaped our collective as well as individual experience and memory, in both domestic and public spaces, giving rise to new forms of cultural experiences, discourses, and productions.

In an environment in which our actions are documented at an ever-increasing pace, whether through social media, big data, or CCTV, our relationship to the archive has changed dramatically. Now, rather than choosing what to archive, we must navigate and organize an abundance of data to produce a coherent narrative. In effect, everyone becomes an amateur archivist, as we curate our digital selves in order to reify an idealized version of the self. This state of constant surveillance encourages mediated experience, in which, rather than witnessing an event live, the viewer will wait for information to be edited down to a digestible volume—a highlights reel of social, political, and cultural events.

In our search for texts and artist works, we selected projects and papers that covered a breadth of subjects but were all tied to the ever-changing nature of documentation and its effect on the manner in which populations form connections with each other and within themselves. Any examination of these issues inevitably involves the problems of disclosure and anonymity. In a world where one’s identity is rapidly becoming a changeable construction—especially when it comes to gender and sexuality—the digital realm has managed to match its users’ demand for reinvention. Between Google’s facial recognition software, the digital imaging used by medical professionals, and the lingering societal constraints imposed on populations according to their gender, sexuality and race, the texts and artworks presented in this issue seek to understand the limits of our control over our individual privacy and our sense of self in a burgeoning world of digital and physical networks.

Amanda Ryan, Chaeeun Lee and Kathleen Langjahr

New York, November 2013